29 Small-scale Features – Fireplaces

The Rustic Landscape of Rim Village, 1927-1941



Small-scale Features


Stone fireplaces throughout the campground were constructed in conjunction with the development of individual campsites. Along with a picnic table and a place to park an automobile, fireplaces were included in each site. Initially, sizable cut stone fireplaces were built following specifications developed by the United States Forest Service. Found to be prohibitive in cost and more “formal” in character, these elaborate designs were replaced by much simpler prototypes that were more rustic in appearance. Rough cut stones were turned on end and placed in a half circle or U-shape, with a larger boulder placed at the bottom of the “U.” These stones wrapped around and supported a solid metal plate which was used as a cooking surface. These rustic fireplaces successfully integrated into the surrounding landscape, for they appeared as natural rock outcrops in the wooded area.


The variety of small-scale features and detail elements that contribute to the historic landscape at Rim Village are characteristic of the strong relationship between utility and form in the design at several scales. The early log guardrails, for example, were designed to fit two different types or “levels” of circulation. The larger, heavier structure, was used along the main access road through Rim Village, and the smaller railing was used to delineate parking areas in front of the lodge, illustrating an appropriate sense of scale and proportion as well as function. Drinking fountains also reflected this relationship between function and design as natural materials served as the casing for a very basic and utilitarian feature. A hierarchy was established whereby more elaborate drinking fountains were constructed in the more public spaces and the simple, straightforward types were used extensively throughout the campground.

All of the rustic signs (with the exception of the Cafeteria sign), log guardrails, picnic tables, and fireplaces at Rim Village have been replaced over the years, leaving only the drinking fountains, stone curbing, and stone pilasters from the original design. Many of these changes reflect changes in technology, maintenance practices, or management strategies within the context of the park as a whole. Even within the significant historic period, changes were made to individual features, such as the log guardrail being replaced by stone curbing. Many of the individual detail features designed for Rim Village were models for other NPS areas and were commonly used as illustrations in Albert Good’s 1938 edition of Park and Recreation Structures. The small-scale features that do remain at the site — the drinking fountains and the curbing details — have special value in the historic landscape.

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